The milk tank has moved from the cattle dock siding at Alresford back down into the head shunt, though not quite as far as Itchen Abbas! Much more derusting and priming has been carried out on the under frame and there is just one more section here to do. David Edwards has been reviewing the wooden blocks underneath the tank and working out a possible way forward to partial replace these – without lifting the tank. The end timber baulks will however still need replacing.
Up at Alton again much derusting has been carried out on the "SR cattle van” conversion with red lead now being applied copiously.
Meanwhile at Medstead Dillon James has cleaned up and repaired a lot more fittings in his home workshop and Chris Willis has obtained the new silvered mirrors for the periscopes for the BY S 653.
Other news is that the carpenters have now completed all work on the "A" frame publicity boards and are continuing their good work on the BY luggage doors... though they are possibly working on the worst two doors at this moment.
Ian Johnson (as joint project leader for the BY) has suggested the best way forward on certain items that include:-
1. Battery boxes and electrical, one of the former will be repaired and the other which is too far gone will be replaced. The existing electrical components will be saved but not re-used as it is intended that the electrical system will be replaced with a 24 volt battery system that can be re-charged from a shore line. The "Stones" generator is also redundant but will be cleaned up and re-hung in position, something for future restorers to ponder.
2. The small under frame sections that require some welding and the new angle that is required have also been measured up and ordered as has the new sheeting for the vacuum tank, though it is unlikely that the welding and fitting of the new angle will take place until the weather cools down a bit.
3. The 22 inch vacuum cylinder, something that is rare on the MHR. Ian reckons that this can be refurbished with 21 inch parts though this will be checked with Alresford Traincare.
With all this in mind, the Thursday gang have set about cleaning up the these components and also completed the undercoat to the under frame too. On the Saturday Francis Kinlochan and new member David Hawkins, (a big welcome to him), started the glossing of the under frame. This is a very time consuming task that was only completed on the following Saturday morning by John Mill and Chris Willis, with John then moving on to the "t-bars" in green gloss as a protection coat before the hinges are refitted with new hinge bolts, again made and supplied by Dillon.
With Dave Ryding doing a good job glossing up already prepared components and ironmongery and Chris Willis repairing one of the battery boxes, it was a good week.
Steve McNeil is continuing his sterling work below the solebar taking advantage of the good weather cleaning and priming while Francis Kinlochan and Watercress Ranger Felix Petrenko, (a welcome return visit from him), set about dismantling the two battery boxes, and although it was at first thought that we would need to make anew at least one battery box, this is looking unlikely now that Francis has agreed to take these on as a project.
A milestone was reached on the Saturday with the re-furbished screw link coupling the first item to be returned to the BY.
Generally there has been a good tidy up of the yard and workshops, something that needs to be done every so often disposing of both wood and metal scrap. Other news is that the new 100mm x 75mm angle has arrived at Medstead, (courtesy of Mark Walden of the Buildings Department) for Ian Johnson to work his magic wand with the welding, and we are most grateful to Pat Butler for transporting it to our section of the yard.
On Sunday the Mid-Hants Railway was delighted to welcome the Bluebell Railways 9F club as guests. As many are aware the 9F club is to the Bluebell what the Watercress Rangers are to the Mid-Hants, giving youngsters between the ages of 12 and
16 the opportunity to volunteer on a preserved Railway and get their hands dirty. It is vitally important we pass on the traditional skills to these boys and girls before they are lost in time, and hopefully as they get older they will want to volunteer and help us to restore what are fast becoming irreplaceable artefacts. For Steve McNeil and Chris Willis, who gave four tours of the yard at Medstead it was a pleasure to show them around. Thanks must also go to the adults from both Railways, and with tongue in cheek thanks to the youngsters for looking after the adults on their visit.
Chris Le Corney